The sonata is in the key of D minor, which it shares with one of Beethoven's greatest works. While Beethoven was particularly found of the key of C minor for the portrayal of epic struggle, it was the key of D minor that he choose for the Ninth Symphony and the greatest portrayal of man's struggle for joy.
As is expected of a late Classical/early Romantic piano sonata, the work is in three movements:
- Largo - Allegro
The second movement is in the key of B flat major, also a foreshadowing of the key of the slow movement of the Ninth Symphony, and it borrows several ideas from the first movement. Finally, the last movement is one of Beethoven's dramatic and emotion filled finales.